Discarding Tubes

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Yesterday I meet up with Joseph and Matt over on the RIver Road.  It is one of my favorite rides. They rode over most of the way to Topeka and I rode them back to downtown Lawrence.

On the way back, between Lecompton and Topeka, I came around the corner to see a inner tube laying on the edge of the road.  It really surprised me.  I don’t think I’ve seen a discarded tube or tire laying around for years.  I stopped, took a picture, then picked it up.  It is so wrong on so many levels that it was laying there.

I assume the person meant to leave it laying there on purpose.  I really can’t imagine a situation where someone would pack up all their stuff and forget to pick up the flat tube.  If it was a mental fart, that would be great.  But I’m thinking not.

Okay, let’s just forget the be friendly to the Earth deal.  If you’re riding on this road, you are doing it for the scenery and lack of traffic.   It is wonderful, tree lined, open fields, a view of the river from above. There is no place for people to be leaving trash laying around.  And this wasn’t really trash.  It was a tube that would be usable again with a single patch.  Whatever, it was an insult to all cyclists that ride this road.

I admit, I have been guilty of leaving tires on the road.  But that was a different time and society’s views on pollution was vastly different, really in its infancy.

When I was a kid, we all trained on sewups.  When a tire was completely done, either by just being worn out, or a catastrophic sidewall cut, if we were near a telephone or electric wire, while the guy changing the tire did his thing, we’d mess around trying to throw the tire up on the wire.  I think this was because throwing gym shoes on the wire had become a cool thing, I’m not sure.   I remember one tire hanging on a wire for 2 or 3 years.

I can’t imagine doing that now, just as I can’t imagine someone just leaving their tube out on the road.  I going to patch the tube and use it.  I guess it was just my lucky day.

The tube.

The tube.

It took me less than a minute to roll it up and put it in my jersey pocket.  Guess this guy didn't have an extra minute.

It took me less than a minute to roll it up and put it in my jersey pocket. Guess this guy didn’t have an extra minute.

I made french toast this morning with fresh bread.  It was super yummy.

I made french toast this morning with fresh bread. It was super yummy.

I was starting to collect the stuff I need for Berryman this weekend and Andrew came by to put his "new" bike together.  We only had to put on the bars, cables, and tape the bars.  It didn't take long and was fun.

I was starting to collect the stuff I need for Berryman this weekend and Andrew came by to put his “new” bike together. We only had to put on the bars, cables, and tape the bars. It didn’t take long and was fun.

28 thoughts on “Discarding Tubes

  1. Jeff Cozad

    Exactly! If you can carry the spare, you can carry the dead tube. And don’t get me started on Energy Gel packaging….

  2. Mark

    Up until about 20yrs ago we threw EVERYTHING out of the car window. When you finished eating or drinking something you just threw the trash out the window. Crazy to think but we did that and never thought anything of it. Today I would be overrun with guilt. Live and learn I guess.

  3. Larry T.

    Why do people litter? Before the “Don’t be a litterbug” campaign it was widespread in the US though in places you still see lots of it. Around Iowa it’s fast-food packaging and beer cans while in Southern Italy it’s pretty much everything, though you’ll see old ladies in front of their place sweeping and washing things down – but only directlly in front of their property. I changed a tube for a client this past season who told me an Italian tour guide (with a company who shall remain nameless) who looked after him awhile back would sling punctured tubes off the road into the weeds – right in front of the clients! But I’d bet the same guy would throw a fit if a cyclist tossed trash in front of HIS house! As the other comment said, don’t get me started on the “energy” food wrappers, we pick piles of those up on mountain passes all over Italy. The folks who make and sell this stuff should at least figure out how to make the packaging biodegradable, no?

  4. Tim

    I always pick up my tubes after changing, but once (a few years ago) I got home and didn’t have the punctured tube. I thought I’d picked it up, but it wasn’t in my pocket. A few days later I rode that same route and I’d forgotten about the tube. And there it was – right where I changed the flat. I guess I was in a hurry and just left. I don’t know exactly how my mind missed that, but that incident always makes me double check before I leave the scene of a flat.

  5. Bart

    Nothing kills a racing venue quicker than littering. You take it in then be sure to pack it out. Most of all don’t toss shiny aluminum gel packets as animals like to eat the packets after we drop them. I’ve heard about a couple of cases of milk cows eating gel packets and then dying due to intestinal blockage. That’s a $25K cow that Joe Farmer just lost for your millisecond of inconsideration.

  6. Chris Froome

    Hey Cycling Fans and Mr. Tilford! Chris Froome, TdF Champ here, to let you know we have a very similar strategy with our various medical waste! Where Armstrong crushed used syringes inside empty Coke cans as a fun hide and seek, we throw our used blood transfusion tubing out the Team Sky RV sunroof while rolling to tangle them in the beautiful “plane,” trees that line the country roads of France! Now that the country is cutting these trees down, Sir David Brailford is making Richie drive all over the place to climb up and get them all down- not not that BMC traitor Richie Porte- our Medical Services schlep Richard Usher. They’re gonna bleach out my DNA then throw them back up so as not to disrupt the pastoral and pristine French country view.

  7. Calvin Jones

    All of that and we don’t learn the cause of that flat from the dead tube? You did check that…..yes? Goat head? Pinch? Maybe a roofing nail? Loved learning about French toast, but really I just want to know what flatted that tube.

  8. Dale

    The last time I deliberately littered was about 20 years ago just north of Harrison, Arkansas on a stretch of highway that was adopted by the KKK. I was sad that I didn’t have a two year old with me. Tossing out poop laden diapers would have filled me with immense glee.

    Driving to Trek CXC a week or so ago I was impressed at how litter-free their roads are up there as compared to all the trash I see here in southern Missouri.

  9. Jimmy Mac

    How about 50 ways to use a wasted tube? 1. Cut a one-inch length, slide it on the handlebar, when you lean your bike against something, slip the rubber over the brake lever so it locks the brake. Your bike won’t slip and fall over. By the way, that road looks awesome.

  10. hubcap diamondstar

    I bet it fell out of a jersey pocket/camel back or whatnot and the rider didn’t notice…or was getting dropped and vowed to return to pick it up. I actually have done the latter, because my tube was filled with stans (pinch flat, didn’t help) and didn’t want it to drip on my other stuff early in the ride. picked it up on another ride couple days later.

  11. Clifford

    In NYC, I am a constant “hey, you dropped something” person and follow litterers with their trash. There are receptacles all over the place here, in the city, and it’s not that hard to keep clean. Yes, I’m one of *those* people. And such a philosophy goes double (at least) for the countryside.

  12. Barb

    I see those empty gel packs all over the trails where I ride. All I can say is some mountain bikers must have been born without part of their brain.

  13. Krakatoa East of Java

    I was born in the late 60’s. As a very young kid, I remember the tossing of garbage to be rather commonplace. Just finished a coke? No garbage can handy? Toss it. I have vivid childhood memories of it. I remember walking places and garbage was strewn pretty much everywhere. But I also remember the introduction of the “crying Indian” ad campaign:
    and all of the subsequent “Keep America Beautiful” public service announcements (and other efforts) on TV. There was REAL media momentum on that issue.

    By the time I was in 4th or 5th grade, the momentum was still going, and to litter would bring (pretty much anyone) some shameful words from those around you. And this continued all the way through high school and into adulthood. However, smokers seemed to escape scrutiny. They’ve pretty much never stopped tossing their butts to the ground.

    But the anti-litter ads have stopped. I rarely see “Ad Council” ads on TV anymore (they were the people who organized many of those PSAs). And I’ve seen a real uptick in garbage tossing in the past few years. And I mean overt “toss the Whopper wrapper out the window” kind of tossing.

    I would have thought that the massive media effort of the 70’s and 80’s would have had permanent results, but I guess we’ve lost our momentum again. Time to get back to work.

  14. Dan Lind

    I cut up old road tubes and slip a piece over CO2 cartridges before stuffing them in my water bottle cage storage bidon. Keeps them from clanking around AND keeps my fingers from freezing when inflating a new tube on the road. There are actually quite a few household uses for old road tubes that I’ve found over the years….

  15. todd

    An article in this month’s Outside Mag states that cigarette butts outnumber all other litter in the world’s oceans.
    Love the French toasts!

  16. Todd

    I’m seeing an increase in roadside litter here in NC too. For a while, I thought it might be the prevalence of pick-up trucks and construction contractors who toss fast food wrappers in the truck bed just to have them fly out later while barreling along. Negligent, but perhaps unintended… Now I’m not sure if my theory holds.

    By far, the largest brand of fast food trash on my most-frequented route is from Bojangles restaurant (I’ve counted). Doesn’t speak much for their clientele.

    One of the things that really disturbs me is people dumping old mattresses, appliances and all manner of stuff my the truck load on private lands and along rural roads. It was rampant all around Kansas City when I lived there. Here in NC it’s also a problem, even though there are two free bulk recycling and waste centers within 5 miles. It’s more than lazy; it’s purposely destructive.

    The only thing I throw from the car or bike is an apple core or banana peel into a wooded area. From the strictest interpretation, that’s probably considered littering too and not an indigenous food source for animals, but at least it’s biodegradable.

    Packing out trash that someone else left behind, whether on a backcountry hike, the road, or a MTB trail is a good ethic/stance to have. It’s been done on Everest, so why not on our local trails. My family does it when we backpack and our Tour De Cure team maintains the road connecting to our neighborhood.

    Thanks for the post, Steve. You’re setting a good example for trash removal and turtle relocation alike. 🙂

  17. Bill K

    Yeah, 30 years ago, I would toss my tubes also….(and try to throw them up high)
    That tube looks like it never has been patched before…..Free Tube!

    Ever find out what happened to your Shimano battery??

  18. Chris Froome

    Hey Joe, Chris Froome here, the most elite bike racer on this Planet! Let me preface my response by letting you know that since last May I let my teammates know that I only let Sir David call me “Froomey” these days, and only because he INSISTS on it … so, needless to say, DONT CALL ME THAT! just saying friend. Additionally, I have no more to do with Och, than Mr. Tilford does with the Coors Light Team that took a bribe to lose the $Million Dollar Thrift Drug Classic! Oh, wait…

  19. Levi

    Just about every inch of highway in the USA is littered with cigarette butts. ANY time you stop on the side of a road, just stand there and look down. You’ll probably see 3 or 4 and if you look left and right there’s usually about 7 or 8 total, just in sight of where you’re standing. Smokers feel like it’s they’re right to throw them on the ground, as if it’s not litter. It sure as hell is litter. I hate smokers enough just for smoking, but then they throw their disgusting trash on the ground too. Next time you’re at a red light at a busy intersection look on the ground at the edge of the road. There’s hundreds of them. It makes me sick. I see most trash as cheap American beer, mostly cans, lottery scratch tickets, fast food wrappers and cigabutts. I think it’s demographically the same bunch of assholes. I swear it should be illegal for some people to procreate. These white trash scumbags driving around throwing their garbage out the window while their various children sit there and learn the deal. This group of people is a major contribution to what ales this country. On top of it, they have that god awful attitude about respecting the earth.

    Only thing worse is little skinny guys shooting drugs into their veins so they can pedal a friggen bike better. Pathetic!

  20. mike crum

    cops get you speeding all the time, even tho all you are doing is going with the flo of traffic…but these same cops never hand out littering tickets.. i just bet they dont..there are cameras at intersections…use them, where these loosers throw out trash, cig butts etc.. then the littering ahole should be paying a fine, caught on camera.. also, theres 100000000000 unemployed people around, hire some to clean the roads , corners intersection up..if the people in charge, really wanted things cleaned up, it could easily be done..

  21. Joe

    And this is new? Buying races has been going on since the beginning of (some) time! Lots of bad practices out there, new and old, but let’s not single out one guy when he’s one of many.

  22. Joe

    No judgement, but twenty years ago was 1995. The crying Indian campaign was in the Seventies if I recall. Did it take that long to grab hold?

  23. Peter W. Polack

    Littering? You wanna talk to me about LITTERING?!

    After maintaining the trails in my city’s landmark park since 1998, I added trash pickup to my list of weekly duties there. In 2013 I picked up 138, 13 gallon bags of trash, the overwhelming percentage of which was deliberately tossed.

    One of the most bizarre things I see tossed are diapers. I can’t understand why people give birth to “this thing”, this thing that is guaranteed to shit and fill a diaper, yet the thing’s owners fail to plan for a means to properly dispose of said diaper once filled, so they just toss it anywhere.

    Complaining about litter is one thing; try picking up other people’s trash and see how pissed off you become.



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